Heeding the advice of a tweet that flew by on my Twitter timeline this morning, I turned off the “predictive text bar” that likes to hover above my keyboard in iOS on my iPhone.
Ironically, this has made me able to type more accurately using both thumbs. I’m actually writing this blog entry at a decent clip.
The Predictive Text Bar was designed to predict what word you were trying include next in whatever you were typing on iOS. The feature was introduced a few years ago. There was a little bit of fanfare surrounding the inclusion. Words like “awesome” and “delight” were bandied about.
I’ve watched various words appear in this bar over the years but I think I’ve actually used the bar only once or twice. The removal of the bar seems to have sped everything up as well; my typing doesn’t feel nearly as laggy as it did before.
So I’m enjoying wireless charging on my iPhone X. I didn’t think it would be that big of deal but when I remembered that Starbucks has wireless chargers built in their tables I found my groove.
Earl and I purchased charging mats when we bought his new iPhone. Since I occasionally listen to headphones when I’m sleeping and because the iPhone X does not have a headphone jack, I needed a way to charge my phone and listen to my headphones at the same time. Dongles be damned, I’m going with the charging mat. It’s been quite enjoyable.
Overall I’m pleased with my new iPhone X. Any frustration has been with apps that haven’t adapted to the new display and a couple of the gestures. I still find myself swiping from every corner possible when I’m trying to bring up the flashlight. Double-clicking the power button does not feel intuitive to bring up Siri. But I’m getting used to these two things; the rest of the functionality of the phone has been spot on.
And I’m really loving the wireless charging capabilities.
In the early 1980s, my hometown bought used street lamps from a horse track. We were excited to see these street lights installed because they emitted this new (to us) orange glow. Prior to the installation of these street lamps we had only known the white glow of mercury vapor lamps that had been around since the 1950s. These refurbished high-pressure sodium lamps were more energy efficient and would provide better visibility during the winter months in the Lake Ontario Snowbelt. I remember asking my mom to take us out in the 1978 Impala after dark so I could see what they looked like. It was quite exciting for a geek like me.
High-pressure Sodium street lights have bene the norm across the United States for the past 30+ years. Looking down across the darkened landscape from an airplane, you see that now familiar orange glow everywhere. Looking out our living room this evening as I type this blog entry, the hazy sky is lit with an orange glow. This color is very prevalent in the city of Chicago.
I find it comforting.
There are efforts to now install LED smart lights; bulbs that report to some centralized location that they are not working properly. The lamps are even more efficient than their sodium predecessors, but unfortunately, they give us this bluish-white light that is downright invasive.
When I go for my morning walk before work, I tend to avoid the streets that have been converted over to the LED lamps. They’re just too bright for my blurry morning vision. The light is harsh. We may be saving money but it feels like we’re inciting insanity with these bright, garish lights. As you walk down the street, houses are bathed in this very bright light. Someone must be making a ton of money on room darkening curtains and shades.
As a private pilot, I prepare for a night flight by staying out of bright lights as much as possible. The cockpit is illuminated with red or very dim lighting to keep our eyes adjusted to the dark. It makes it easier to see things in the darkened sky when are eyes are using more rods than cones in the relatively darkened environment. Much of our technology is designed to change the color wavelengths displayed on the monitor or display as it gets closer to bedtime. This helps our brain adjust; too much bluish-white light keeps us awake.
I have to think that animals living in the neighborhood must hate these new LED lights.
Have you ever been driving along a country road and had an expensive car with crazy bright LED headlights come at you? How disorienting do you find that to be? I have to wonder how much of our safety is compromised as our eyes adjust back to a darkened environment. LED lights at night, especially these ultra-white/bluish lights are blinding.
I’m hoping that the city of Chicago takes a long time rolling out these LED lamps and that the comfortable hue of high-pressure sodium lights stays around for many more years. While energy savings is always a good thing, light pollution and messed up circadian rhythms can not be good for a residential area.
Earl and I went shopping on Lincoln Square this afternoon. I stopped in to Q-Brothers to use a gift certificate and when I came out Earl showed me his phone. He had dropped it and the screen shattered.
This is the second screen in this phone. It has been showing signs of displeasure since it was dropped in some water a few weeks ago.
“I’m buying your birthday present early.”
Off we went to the Apple Store, where we bought Earl a brand new iPhone 8. He felt that the iPhone X was too much phone for him but the iPhone 8 felt familiar to his iPhone 6s, just faster. We also purchased a wireless charging mat for his nightstand.
Matt and Alex helped with the purchase; Matt coordinated the transaction and Alex sat with Earl and me at the “setup desk” as we went through the motions of wiping out Earl’s old phone and setting up the new one. I had a great conversation with both guys about where Apple is headed, and I had the opportunity to watch a Today at Apple session is progress.
As much as I complain about the quality of Apple’s offerings as of late, the fact of the matter is, I still believe they are giving us the best technological experience available to consumers today, especially when you look at connecting humans with technology. While any company can provide a product to use, Apple provides an experience.
Today’s adventure at the Apple store was absolutely top-notch and I have no complaints with how things went. It was fun to watch others setup their devices at the setup desk; it helped me understand how folks out in the wild manage passwords and accounts and all of that stuff. It also helped me understand how much patience you have to have to work in an Apple store.
Looking for inspiration to write software today, I did a search for “future technology”. Usually I watch Corning’s “Day of Glass” presentations or what Microsoft envisions 2020 will look like in the world of Surface and Office, but today some other suggestions were presented. One of those suggestions was the video from Korean Telecom featured in the blog entry earlier today.
The other was a link to the first episode of the third season of “Black Mirror”. The episode is simply titled “Nosedive”.
I’ve seen ads for “Black Mirror”; as I understand it, the episodes are standalone affairs, many based on future technology and how society reacts and implements it. Cursory research shows that the episodes can be quite dark. Some describe them as “nightmare inducing”. I have enough going on in my mind at any given time to fuel my own nightmares; I don’t need any exterior help to further the cause. However, the description of this episode was intriguing. Starring Bryce Dallas Howard (I remembered her from “The Help”) as Lacie Pound, the episode focused on a society that was completely dependent on Social Networking status. Everyone was rated on a score from one to five. Contact lenses allowed you to identify anyone around you and their current score or rating. People, strangers, co-workers, and friends alike, rated you on your interaction. Was that conversation worth five stars? Did the waitress deserve three stars? Perks in society were based on your ranking, for example, Lacie wanted to move into an apartment that required a certain ranking and she was only able to afford it if she ranked higher than a 4.5; the higher ranking would bring her a 20% discount on her weekly rent. Airline tickets and amenities were based on the same ranking system. Clubs were restricted to a minimum ranking. Your ranking was your collateral.
The driver for this implementation was to keep society calm and friendly. If you swore or screamed or did not “behave as expected”, your peers would rank you down and you would be ostracized. The more stars you had, the more impact your opinion impacted another’s rating. They were the Social Influencers. They even had counseling services to help you find a way to boost your rating.
How perilously close is our society to this scenario?
I am too busy on Social Media. I often say I use Twitter to keep up with current events, follow friends, and share my opinion on the state of the world. Some of the third party apps I use show a graph of how much of an impact I am making through my Twitter account. How many “hearts” did I get? How many people retweeted me? How many followers do I have at any given moment?
I will admit right here and now that I was elated when my follower count first went over 500 a few years ago. It recently climbed over a grand. That made me smile. It made me feel something. After watching this episode of “Black Mirror”, I can’t help but think a little hollow.
For all my life I have wanted to be one of the cool kids. I remember sitting in Room 220 in Lura Sharp Elementary School in sixth grade. Are desks were arranged in clusters; my desk was part of a cluster of four of us. We had greasy hair, we talked about geeky stuff, and we sat together in the cafeteria. Near the door was a group of six desks. In later years they would be the popular kids; the senior class president, the star quarterback, the girl with the parents that could afford to buy her a miniature Pong game. I was invited to join their group when one of their peers left for another school. I moved my desk and was welcomed into their club. I felt like I had some sort of status. It was nearly 40 years ago but I can remember it like it was almost yesterday.
It’s pretty much documented that “Likes” on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) triggers a bit of a Dopamine high. This past weekend I was telling my friend Jeff how I felt when Earl and I walked into a restaurant on the 70th floor of a skyscraper overlooking the city. Admittedly, and I know this is quite shallow of me, I feel a ping of acceptance when an Instagram photo is liked by one of the cool IGers. When I muster up the courage to “Friend” someone on Facebook that I haven’t met in person yet (but we obviously have same interests, like both belong to the National Gay Pilots Association or something), I feel like I’m climbing some sort of social ladder. Years ago, back in the heyday of personal blogging, Earl and I ran into a fellow blogger in Manhattan. He recognized us and was pleasant. That meant a lot to me. Not too long after that, I attended a happy hour where a man, a very hot man, introduced himself to me. I said, “um, we are friends on Facebook.” His reply? “We are? Wow, I don’t remember you.”
I remember feeling a little crushed.
I have to admit that I try to keep my social media feeds pretty honest. I don’t have an online persona, I’m pretty much “what you read is what you get”. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve sought out validation for nearly every one of the almost 50 years I’ve been on this planet. But how real is any sense of validation one would find on Social Media? How real are the timelines we see? How true are the photos we see? How good is the person with so many Facebook friends that they can’t accept any more requests?
A few years ago, I was remarking to Jamie the drop in the number of “likes” I was getting on Instagram after I shaved off that enormous mustache I had. I’ve often said that Jamie is a very old soul because he said, “Fuck ’em”.
My rating hasn’t been the same every since. And you know what? That’s OK.
I love television shows that make us think. If you want to think about your Social Media existence and what it really means to you, I highly suggest you watch “Black Mirror” Season 3, Episode 1, “Nosedive”.
I’m always interested to see what others are thinking our future technology will look like. It’s felt like we were just on the edge of something “big” since smartphone technology became mainstream in the late 2000s and early 2010s. I think we are long overdue for the next jump in innovation. The question is, are we ready for it?
I’m still making discoveries about my new iPhone X. I’m thoroughly enjoying my new phone, especially the form factor and the way it fits in my hand. Prior to this phone I was using an iPhone 6s Plus: I loved the real estate but the form factor was too large. I feel like I can text with one hand.
I’ll probably write a proper review once I feel I’ve figured out all the nuances but here’s a couple of quick hits:
The OLED display is absolutely amazing
The cameras are outstanding. I took a couple of night photos from our balcony here in Chicago this evening and the clarity is amazing.
The camera also took great photos during my flight yesterday. I wish I had taken the same shots with my iPhone 6s Plus, but it’s already been wiped out and is on it’s way for refurbishment. Comparing other flight photos taken last winter with my 6s+ I can see a nice difference in photo quality.
The new gestures, due to the lack of a home button, became natural to me within an hour. The only thing I miss about the lack of a home button is knowing which was is up when I pick up the phone in the dark
Battery life has been amazing
The transfer of my data went about 90% well. There are a few apps that didn’t transfer settings over, but I think that falls on the apps developer.
For the past 48 hours I have been very pleased with this phone. Nothing has made me say “why?” and I’ve had no sense of frustration at all.
The iPhone X is definitely an evolution of the smartphone. I don’t care if the features are available from other manufacturers or on other operating system. It works well for me and I’m quite pleased.
Earl and I binged watched the last three episodes of CBS’ “Wisdom of the Crowd” tonight. There are two remaining episodes scheduled for January; the show has been cancelled, mostly because of the alleged sexual misconduct charges against series star Jeremy Piven. It’s a shame this show has been cancelled as it’s taken this long for the show to find its stride. The technology is a bit showy for television but the concept of the show is interesting: a crowdsourcing application is used to solve crimes. The show also tackled some interesting challenges we are seeing in today’s society, including video “stars” being stalked by other users. On the show the video platform is called AllSourcer, but in reality it’s YouTube. Our society is fueled by notoriety and this one episode in particular tackled that head on.
It’s a shame there’s only two episodes of the series left. Like “Century City”, the short lived lawyer show on CBS from 2004 that took place in the year 2030, “Wisdom of the Crowd” is just finding its ground as it meets its early demise.
One of the things I like about “Wisdom of the Crowd” is the use of crowdsourcing. Engaging users into an application platform and urging them to make quality contributions to the information being shared is so compelling. Using the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to solve problems that plague us today should be where we’re headed with technology today. We have a great number of steps in that direction: Waze, Wikipedia, Yelp, TripAdvisor: all of these platforms rely on quality content from contributors. There has to be a sound, trusted way to curate this incoming data. This is tricky for software engineers, this is tricky for algorithms and this is tricky for human screeners, but the community contributing to the platform bears the ultimate responsibility.
Is our society today ready to handle wide-scale crowdsourcing efforts? I wish this was the case but honestly I’m skeptical, especially with the amount of disinformation that is spread on the social networks. There are many bad actors that use Twitter, Facebook, etc. for building distrust and spreading lies as fact. They’re the new avenues for FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Distrust. At one time I would have considered Twitter a crowdsourced event platform. Earlier in Twitter’s history I used it as a source of late-breaking news. Today I’m skeptical of anything I see on Twitter. The company has failed in securing the authenticity of the information on their network. This is a shame, because Twitter had the potential to be one of the greatest crowdsourced platforms out there. But they went for the numbers and the revenue. Quantity over quality. Ad revenue over accurate information. A wasted opportunity that has moved into the realm of notoriety.
I’m intrigued by the concept of “Sophe”, the crowd-sourced crime solving platform on the show “Wisdom of the Crowd”. I like to think that if users think they are doing good thingin the world through an app, they’ll share their information at face value and hopefully bias is set aside. Is the U.S. ready for a real-world “Sophe”? Only time will tell. I’m sure someone out there is already working on building such a platform. I know I would participate.
In the meanwhile, I’ll keep writing quality reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor and sharing data on Waze. I like being a voice in the crowd to make the world a better place.